Time to dig up and divide

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Want to keep your landscape popping through the years? Plant perennials.

Unlike annual plants, which die for good at the end of their season, hardy perennials are designed to rise again year after year.

Popular perennials include hostas, day lilies, irises, daisies and sedum, but the list goes on.

However, just because these plants operate on vegetation autopilot doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance.

In fact, left to themselves, some perennials, including peppermint and other herbs, are apt to take over your whole yard or garden.

Luckily, managing perennials can be done with a few simple tools and good timing.

Flathead and sharpshooter shovels are two pieces of hardware recommended by Naomi Weichert, an avid gardener and owner of The Arrangement, a floral design business in Kansas City.

She gets out in the dirt every spring and fall to work with her perennials, some of which end up in her company’s decorative creations.

“I love using hosta leaves,” Weichert says.

Even though it sometimes can feel like you’re killing your darlings, trimming back any type of plant can help make it stronger by promoting root growth.

With well-established perennials, you may need to go deeper and thin out those roots.

This is the job Weichert gets her shovels out for. The pointy sharpshooter is great for separating tangly roots.

Just dig down around the root ball and split it into two or more plants. You can move the new sections into a different area of your garden or give them to a friend.

The best time to split your perennials is in the springtime a few weeks before they bloom. “Just don’t cut it too close to when they’re supposed to bloom or you won’t get any flowers that season,” Weichert warns.

Wearing gloves when you’re playing in the dirt also is important, especially in springtime, Weichert says, because that’s when you’re more likely to run into spiders.

If you wait for fall to split your perennials, make sure they have died back a bit.

Weichert recommends giving the new plantings plenty of water, along with a bit of root growth hormone, which is available at any garden supply store.